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Achebe, Chinua. Anthills of the Savannah. 1987. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

[COCC Library: PR9387.9.A]

Achebe, Chinua. Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. 1988. New York : Anchor-Doubleday, 1990.

[COCC Library: PR9387.9.A3 H6 1990]

Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." The Massachusetts Review
18.4 (Winter 1977): 782-94.

This classic essay is widely reprinted - here are some sources where you can find it:

--Rpt. Achebe, Chinua. Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays.1988. New York: Anchor-Doubleday,
1990. 1-20.

--Rpt. Heart of Darkness: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Essays in Criticism. 3rd ed. Ed.
Robert Kimbrough. New York: W. W. Norton, 1988. 251-262.

--Rpt. Novels for Students, Vol. 2. Rpt. Gale Literature Resource Center. 2003. Central Oregon
Community College, Bend, OR. 23 May 2003.

--NOTE to Cora to add citation here: Achebe's essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of
Darkness" is also included in HUM 211 Winter 2010 required textbook:

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart: Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Francis Abiola Irele. New York: Norton,

Achebe, Chinua. Morning Yet on Creation Day: Essays. London: Heinemann, 1975.

Things Fall Apart

1) Who was Achebe’s intended audience? Who did he write Things Fall Apart for? What was he trying to
communicate to his audience?
I would say that his intended audience was for unknowing people. The average person that never
understood a culture like the Igbo. He is trying to communicate the way culture, the personalities of
these characters so people can understand what it’s like.

2) What does the opening epigraph by Yeats tell us about the novel? What themes does it introduce?

Looking back now, I think that Okonkwo is the falcon and the falconer is his dad. Anarchy meaning,
the power that Okonkwo’s father had on him is fading - “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

3) Is Okonkwo destined for tragedy or did his choices (made of his own free will) lead him to his tragic

Okonkwo’s choices lead him to tragedy. He chose to not be like his father. He wanted to be
powerful. He didn’t show emotion, well anything other than anger. Love or compassion was a sign of
weakness. People who want power and aren’t nice about how they get’s called Karma.

4) Why does Okonkwo hang himself? Is it a cowardly act or brave? Weak or noble?

Okonkwo hanged himself because he didn’t want to be ruled by the Europeans. In the book, it is said
that it is cowardly and weak, because it’s a disgrace to the Earth to take away your life, but I think that
from a political and social stand point, that it was a way to rebel against the Europeans and prove a
point to them, that he wasn’t going to abide by their rules and religious views.

5) What do the constant references to gender (male/female) say about Okonkwo? About Igbo culture?

Throughout the book there were references it says that Okonkwo and the Igbo culture are
outdated and sexist. Unfortunately, woman were treated with a small degree of respect. Not so often
you heard anything neg. about a man, but it shows how respect is lacked in the culture and from
6) Why do you think Achebe often used untranslated Igbo words? What kind of tone was he trying to

I think that Achebe used the words because he wanted the reader to feel like they were in their
culture and experience the events that were happening in the book. The tone he was trying to create
was a realistic one. He wanted the reader to be connected to the incidents, not just treat the story as
another book. He wanted the connection to be real.

7) Why do you think the people of Umuofia maintain the belief that the egwugwu are gods when they
are clearly masked humans?

I think that belief is a big part in that. Someone who believes strongly enough in something or has had a
strong tradition and has respect for it, is more apt to not believe the truth. Is more likely to continue to
believe because of the rich heritage.

8) The Western canon has traditionally imagined white European culture as humane and civilizing. On
the other hand, Eastern and African cultures have been depicted as primitive and savage. Does this hold
true for Things Fall Apart? How are the representations of both parties – the Igbo and the white men –
more complex than this traditional model?

The concepts do hold true in some ways because i'm not used to their culture. I wouldn't agree with
how their treat the women or children, to be seen and not heard, but that also goes by a frequent
stereotype, that the white European is arrogant and wants power and wealth. It’s more complex
because there is more sides and reasons to why the Europeans went to different parts of the world.

9) Does Things Fall Apart present a one-dimensional perspective of white people or a holistic and
accurate one?
I think it’s a one-dimensional perspective because the author doesn’t explain why the Europeans
came, why they wanted to spread christianity, and so forth. The author only talked about the negative
and not the positive.

10) Is the story told about the Igbo and colonization only relevant to this specific Nigerian group or is it
representative of other colonized groups as well?

I represents other colonized groups as well because other colony’s have been taken over by
Europeans or anyone else. It show religion being spread throughout the world, which is a major event in
the world’s history. It’s an all around story.

Transcript of Things Fall Apart



But the Ibo people have a proverb that when a man says yes his chi says yes also. Okonkwo said yes very
strongly; so his chi agreed. (Achebe 27)

What does this mean?

The Western world tends to have a one-dimensional perspective of Africa

The idea of "us" versus "them"

Society is influenced by the media

Ignorance = global concept

The problem is systemic

Society has a one-dimensional view of Africa

Let's Start With a Video

Homemade Documentary

Things Fall Apart

Achebe's dominant model

Things Fall Apart

, a novel that portrays Igbo society with "specificity and sympathy" as it examines the effects of
European colonialism, may be a difficult text for Western readers seeing that the Western world is
incapable of appreciating an African perspective. Evident through society's one-dimensional point of
view it is clear that this type of ignorance leads us to form preconceived opinions and assumptions that
hold a negative influence over us and thus, to easily misconstrue the true value of a culture; African in
particular. Furthermore, the motifs as well as unique traditions presented in Achebe's novel are rather
difficult to comprehend for Western readers seeing that the concepts behind them are unfamiliar to a
Western society.


It always surprised him, he went on to say, because he never thought of Africa as having that kind of
stuff, you know. (Achebe)

Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as the "other world", the antithesis of Europe and
therefore of civilization, a place where man's vaulted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by
triumphant bestiality. (Achebe)

Chinua Achebe

Cultural Differences


a Valuable Text?

Victoria Kissoon

Ms. Coleman


13 January 2014

Death of a Salesman


Still relevant

Western Viewpoint

Why is Things Fall Apart

Fills that "empty spot" on the bookshelf

Novel attempts to repair some of the damage done by earlier European depictions of Africans

Achebe wants readers to attain a holistic and accurate view of Africa

The Novel is Universal

It's not so much the story, but the value of the text

Concepts are universal

Readers should be able to make connections

At some point we should be able to see ourselves within the text

Both Willy and Okonkwo possess the tragic flaw of hubris

You and Hap and I, and I'll show you all the towns. America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding
people. And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England... I can park my car in any
street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own. (Miller 31)

You take me for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. "Willy Loman is here!" That's all
they have to know, and I go right though. (Miller 33)

As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He
heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He heard Ikemefuna cry, "My father, they have killed
me!" as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was
afraid of being thought weak. (Achebe 61)

He had a large barn full of yams and he had three wives. (Achebe 6)

and yet, within a month/ Let me not think on't. Frailty, thy name is woman!/ Married with my uncle,/
My father's brother, but no more like my father/ Than I to Hercules. Within a month,/ Ere yet the salt of
most unrighteous tears/ Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,/ She married. O most wicked speed, to
post/ With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! (1.2.145-157)

He ripped out the golden pins with which her clothes were fastened, raised them high about his head,
and speared the pupils of his eyes. “You will not see” he said, “the horrors I have suffered and done”.
Murmuring words like these he raised his hands and struck his eyes again, and again. (Sophocles 73)
Then they came to the tree from which Okonkwo's body was dangling, and they stopped dead. (Achebe

Works Cited

The Feast of the New Yam was approaching and Umuofia was in a festival mood. It was an occasion for
giving thanks to Ani, the earth goddess and the source of all fertility... The new year must begin with
tasty, fresh yams and not the shriveled and fibrous crop of the previous year. (Achebe 36)

Singh, Rahul. "Things fall apart as a postcolonial text--an assertion of African culture." Language In India
Aug. 2013: 271+. Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.

Korang, Kwaku Larbi. "Making a post-eurocentric humanity: tragedy, realism, and Things Fall Apart."
Research in African Literatures 42.2 (2011): 1+. General OneFile. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.

Beckham, Jack M. "Achebe's things fall apart." The Explicator 60.4 (2002): 229+. General OneFile. Web.
10 Jan. 2014.

Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'" Massachusetts Review. 18.
1977. Rpt. in Heart of Darkness, An Authoritative Text, background and Sources Criticism. 1961. 3rd ed.
Ed. Robert Kimbrough, London: W. W Norton and Co., 1988, pp.251-261